In the end, Anomaly is a promising release that hints at Dunnie’s potential, and with some fine-tuning in the songwriting department, her future projects could be truly exceptional.
By Hope Ibiale
In 2017, a young girl had an epiphany to pursue music production. Oladunni Lawal (Dunnie) who was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, commenced her musical journey at the age of twelve in her local church, and since then, the singer/music producer’s name has been associated with resilience. An alumnus of The Sarz Academy, Dunnie’s producer tagline “Legend O” has echoed over records by Nigerian pop stars, Yemi Alade and Wande Coal, South African sensations, Focalistic and Busiswa, and many others. Her music production abilities extend beyond collaborating with other artistes as she has also unveiled personal projects, such as the 2018 project, Seven, the 2020 EP Four, and the Amazon The EP released in 2021. She shows no signs of slowing down, and the talented artiste again delivers with her latest EP, Anomaly.
Her previous projects have explored themes such as love, resilience, and life experiences, and her new project, Anomaly, reiterates that artistic vision. It is an excellent example of the singer’s mastery of sound and intent, despite its shortcomings with songwriting.
Anomaly opens with “Aljahna (Paradise)”, a sombre track where Dunnie sings about craving paradise, overcoming life’s challenges, and waiting patiently on God’s time. Her vocals transport listeners to a utopia that promises ease. The singer has an insatiable desire to find a place where her mind can wander freely. This echoes in lyrics like, “Aljahana, show me paradise, give me paradise. I want to live in paradise.” With “Aljahna (Paradise)”, she invites listeners to an intimate soundscape.
Listeners are quickly transported to the love tune, “Already Won”. Here, Dunnie partners with Nigerian singer and songwriter, Chike, to deliver a smooth love song. Together, both artistes sing about finding their perfect partners and leaving the dating scenes. They sing, “I’m done chasing shadows, you’re the reason I smile/ I’m done with the streets so babe I already won.” On this record, Chike soars on familiar waters, and their vocals paired together make for a beautiful love song for weddings, particularly one where the couple takes their first dance. The accompanying music video, helmed by Director Pink, displays a lovey-dovey wedding ceremony, reiterating that it is a song made for marriage unions.
(Read also: Mayorkun Plays it Safe on Love.. for Free EP)
After making heartfelt promises to her lover in “Already Won”, she takes a more sensual path on the soulful/Afrofusion song, “Tempting”. Here, the artiste sings about the seductiveness of her lover. With lyrics like, “It’s tempting o baby sho ma bamidele. You are tempting me,” Dunnie confidently makes her inviting intentions known.
The next track, “DND” is armed with lyrics that are instantly catchy, with melodies that might get stuck in one’s head after a listen. She begins with, “Don’t want you blowing up my phone. Don’t wanna hear from you no more. I know say you wan bill me so I put my phone on DND”, revealing her desire for solitude. The song bears a similarity to Lade’s “Adulthood Anthem”, but while Dunnie searches for a way to break free from certain obligations, Lade expresses sorrow over heavy responsibilities.
In “Obsessed”, Dunnie fixates on her love interest. Here, the singer expresses similar emotions as in “Already Won”. At about a two-minute run, “Obsessed” adds little to Anomaly. It is more of a supplementary addition to the EP than being a proper song. “Obsession” comes off as a track included as an afterthought.
The opening guitar strings and backup vocals on “Jalo” put Anomaly back on track with its infectious melodies. Here, Dunnie glides over the stellar production as she positions herself as a fighter for love. I cannot help but notice the intentionality behind the production of “Jalo”; the placement of the background vocals, and the theme of the song. In this song, she puts energy into her love affair, and this matches the lively production. The synergy between the record and the song’s production quality is seamless, as they mutually reciprocate each other’s energy. The prominent guitar strings make Dunnie appear like a rockstar.
“Stamina” comes in next. In the track, Dunnie is full of braggadocio as she sings, “I get the engine of a Benz. Sticks and stone may break my bones but e no fit kill my soul.” She also addresses a certain perception of her artistry – about being underrated as an artiste, and about the fake love that hovers over a successful person. But despite the naysayers, she stands strong and focuses on building her legacy.
Anomaly closes the curtain with “More (Ko Ko Ko)”. In the DeeYasso-produced track, Dunnie’s assuredness and expressiveness such as in tracks like “Already Won”, “Tempting”, and “Obsession” resurfaces again. Here, the artiste reveals her heart desires to her love interest and tells everyone that her days of online dating are over. The onomatopoeic “ko ko ko” symbolises a plea for access, specifically directed towards capturing the heart of Dunnie’s love interest.
In today’s music landscape where music producers also show creativity as singers, Dunnie elegantly takes a spot with Anomaly, a project that reveals her versatility. The eight-track project portrays Dunnie as a woman who recognises her desires and pursues them confidently, exploring love, desire, and self-assurance. Anomaly finds strength in its music production quality, but the songwriting does not measure up to the brilliant production. A better part of the project drowns with subpar writing. Although tracks like “Aljahna”, “Already Won”, “Jalo”, and “DND” are good indicators of Dunnie’s artistry, a few tracks do not produce a well-rounded project.
The EP may not have been perfectly executed, but it showcases Dunnie’s potential. The work truly shines with the vibrant and infectious melodies of “Jalo” and the unapologetic boldness of “Stamina”, where Dunnie asserts her strength and ambition. Furthermore, “More (Ko Ko Ko)” provides a fitting and confident close to the EP, expressing a heartfelt desire for love.
While Anomaly showcases Dunnie’s confidence and prowess as an artiste, the project’s strength lies in its top-notch production quality. The songwriting falls short and leaves room for improvement. In the end, Anomaly is a promising release that hints at Dunnie’s potential, and with some fine-tuning in the songwriting department, her future projects could be truly exceptional.
Lyricism – 0.7
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1.5
Vocalisation – 1.5
Listening Experience – 1
Rating – 5.7/10
Hope Ibiale is a writer and book lover.